A former Air Force pilot who now flies private jets shares what her job is like — it's not as glamorous as people may think
Laura Schmutzer was in the Air Force and worked as a commercial pilot before moving to private jets.
The mom of two flies for Jet It, a private aviation company based in Greensboro, North Carolina.
She shares some little-known perks like going for jogs between flights and being home for dinner.
Private-jet travel is often associated with luxury and extravagance. But as a private-jet pilot, Laura Schmutzer can attest there's more to it than people might expect.
Prior to joining Jet It, a fractional-jet-ownership company, Schmutzer served in the Air Force for seven years, then took a break to raise her two daughters before returning to flying in 2019 with ExpressJet, a regional airline. When that airline shut down during the pandemic, the seasoned aviator moved to Jet It.
From flying to multiple destinations in one day to going on last-minute adventures between flights, here are some of the most surprising parts of her job.
Pilots have a dedicated concierge
While the passengers get a dedicated team to ensure their flight is as luxurious as possible, Jet It also provides a concierge service for the pilots. They arrange things like hotels, transportation, and even food. "The crew concierge has more time on their hands while the pilots are flying, so they can take care of these things," said Schmutzer. "They even know my regular Panera order so it can be ready when I land."
She goes for hikes or runs on the beach between flights
Being a private-jet pilot doesn't mean sitting in a cockpit all day. Schmutzer flies between two and five times daily, mostly on continental US routes during her eight-day rotation.
She told Insider she often has downtime between flights and can squeeze in a workout like hiking, running, or taking fitness classes. "If there is a beach nearby, I'll run there or find a local yoga class," she said. "I'll even Google local hiking trails near the airport to maintain an active lifestyle."
Not all clients are VIPs or celebrities — many are small-business owners with multiple car dealerships or rental properties
Contrary to what some might think, not all clients of private-jet companies are VIPs or celebrities. In fact, many of the clients are small-business owners who own multiple car dealerships or rental properties. Schmutzer said small-business owners and entrepreneurs take advantage of Jet It's day-use model.
Clients can hire a jet for the day for a lower price, making it easier for business owners to visit multiple properties that would not be easily accessible via commercial airlines.
Private-jet pilots can fly to multiple destinations in one day, working up to 14 hours
Private-jet pilots can fly to multiple destinations in a single day and sometimes work up to 14 hours, Schmutzer said. She told Insider that visiting three or more destinations in one day isn't uncommon, with five being an especially long day.
That's because private jets are so efficient, particularly the Honda Jet, which can do little hops across the Caribbean. "In one instance, I flew from the Bahamas to Florida, then to Texas for fuel before ending the day in Colorado," she said.
She said that while the long hours can be demanding, pilots always get at least 10 hours of rest, and work eight days on with six off. Jet It provides unlimited PTO for its pilots to ensure they're well-rested, Schmutzer added.
Many of the destinations are in rural parts of the US and not luxury locales
Not all destinations she flies to are luxurious, Schmutzer said. Many times, she flies clients to rural parts of the US where there may not be any commercial airports.
"Sometimes people want to go hunting out in the middle of nowhere in Wyoming or attend a football game in Gainesville, Florida, or Starkville, Mississippi," said Schmutzer. "I've even landed at tiny airports with no towers or facilities like Black Hills River, South Dakota. So it's not always glamorous locations."
She can be back home for dinner sometimes
"Because I live in Greensboro and we're based out of Greensboro, I'll do my flights for the day and be home in time for dinner to see my daughters," said Schmutzer.
This is a huge perk for pilots who don't want to uproot their families to pursue careers in aviation. Commercial pilots must live close to or commute to major aviation hubs.
Jet It will even pay for pilots to take a commercial flight from wherever they live to the destination of the first flight of the eight-day rotation, according to Schmutzer.
Last-minute adventures between flights are possible
While being a private-jet pilot isn't always glamorous, there's sometimes time for spontaneous adventures. Schmutzer said she once flew to Key West and decided to go snorkeling on a whim.
"After checking into my hotel, I went straight to the concierge and asked if I could go snorkeling," she said. "Despite the boat leaving in just an hour, I was determined to make it happen." She quickly threw her belongings in her room and made it to the dock in time. "It was an amazing experience and definitely a perk of the job."
Read the original article on Business Insider